Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 12:37 UK

Kenya's cabinet learns the ropes

Members of the new Kenyan coalition government
Some ministers still behave as if they are in opposition

Kenya's power-sharing cabinet is meeting for the first time since being sworn in more than three weeks ago.

The coalition government, which was key to solving the nation's post-election violence, has gathered for an "induction seminar".

The BBC's Josphat Makori in Kenya says it is a chance for former political rivals to learn how to work as a team.

Violent clashes after December's election left some 1,500 people dead and 600,000 homeless.

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga agreed to share power in February after negotiations led by former UN head Kofi Annan.

Weeks of wrangling followed about how to divide up the coalition cabinet.


Friday's meeting was opened by Mr Kibaki, followed by a speech by Mr Odinga to the more than 90 ministers and deputy ministers.

Displaced couple in western Kenya Feb 08
There is concern about the repatriation programme is being rushed

Our correspondent says that the induction is intended to help ministers who have not served in government before.

Issues of collective responsibility and issues of cohesion will be paramount, as some of Mr Odinga's party ministers still talk as if they are in opposition, he says.

Before the ministers went into their closed-door session, Mr Odinga urged all ministers to work together and iron out any differences in private, not in the eye of the media.

On Thursday, a group of civil society organisations accused the new government of rushing the return of tens of thousands of displaced people, without addressing underlying ethnic tensions.

More than 25 organisations said the resettlement operation must be handled with greater sensitivity if Kenya was to achieve lasting peace.

They called for greater consultation with communities and compensation to help displaced people rebuild their homes.

The Kenyan government says it expects to complete the programme of resettling the 140,000 people still displaced within a month.

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